Thursday, 28 May 2015

Dean Martin - The Later Years, on Max Headroom

More belated and perfunctory posting. I recently presented a special on the later years of Dean Martin for 3RRR FM's Max Headroom, which can be streamed here. There I celebrated what I find to be Dino's most interesting period, a strange world of almost intentionally lacklustre recordings, a melange of stale Tin Pan Alley standards, big band, country and sixties bubblegum pop that, in the late 1970s, sounded particularly incongruous. Ironically such product could also only come from the 1970s.

Here is the blurb for the show:
Over his long and varied career, Dean Martin, "The King of Cool", was a heart throb, crooner, film star and leading member of the rat pack.
He was also known as "The Laziest Man In Showbiz", churning out countless albums of stale standards and hosting formulaic, TV specials for over 40 years.
On Max Headroom this week, Joshua Meggitt explores this lacklustre Dino, playing choice filler from his later albums, with excerpts from such cinematic highlights as The Cannonball Run 2
By focusing on the later years, I intentionally avoided his younger, more well known material, the stuff of nostalgia shows and Scorsese films, and went straight to the end: his lazy, resolutely uncool, critically condemned, and now long forgotten (if ever paid attention to) final years. It's a world of strange, almost studied mediocrity, so mindlessly middle-of-the-road that hearing it now, its quite unlike all other music. Exemplary is "Old Bones", the opening song from his final album, 1983's The Nashville Sessions:

Today, Dean Martin is largely remembered as a lazy, lackadasical Frank Sinatra, a Las Vegas self-parody, his reputation resting on a few comedies he made with Jerry Lewis, and some charming pieces of pop fluff that once topped the Hit Parade with retro “lounge” revivals and appearances in mafia films. Even by the later years of his own career, his early days as a global, charismatic romantic icon are long forgotten… and yet I can’t look away! This song is so stupid, but I love it: "Love Thy Neighbour" from 1978's penultimate Once in a While:

The main appeal with Dean Martin was his carelessness, a quality I've even managed to get my four year old to appreciate. He was, as biographer Nick Tosches dubbed him, the ultimate menefreghista - one who just doesn't give a fuck.Or, going further, what contrarian commentator and Oxbow singer Eugene Robinson describes as outright violent misanthropy. 
Dean Martin’s vocals say one thing to my ears: FUCK YOU!
The more I listen, the more I agree. Hostility and scorn for both his material and his audience is clearly expressed in his reading of "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'", from the wonderfully titled, My Woman My Woman My Wife of 1970. Essentially a ballad about the pain of breaking up, listen to Dean laugh as he delivers the line, "I cry myself to sleep each night", as though the very concept of him feeling heartbreak is absurd:

The ilovedinomartin Dean Martin fansite blog got wind of the program and promoted it heavily. Check out their kind words here but here's an excerpt:

Hey pallies likes are we in for the hugest of huge Dino-treats as today, as promised we share our newest pallie, down under dude Mr. Joshua Meggitt's  coolest of cool "celebration" of our hour long radio programme that is a marvelous  mix of  '70's and '80's Dino-croons and choice audio recordin's from our Dino's later work on both the small and big screens...
We gotta 'fess up that we  grooved on each and ever moment of this purely potent programme of passionate appreciato for our King of Cool.  We particularly loved listenin' to a number of croons from our Dino's last al-b-um, "The Nashville Sessions."  And, we couldn't 'gree more with Josh that these particular croons really are remarkably revelatory of our Dino's life and times at that point...truly these croons form a stellar set of Dino-teachin's!!!!!

We coulda goes on and on, 'bout the wonderful mixin' of Mr. Meggitt's Dino-reflections with our Dino's singin', but likes we wants  youse all to enjoy this amazin' programme lovin'ly presented by in-the-know Dino-holic Mr. Joshua Meggitt.
We salute Josh for this tremendous tribute to our main man and for encouragin' his audience to develop a deeper understandin' and relationship with of our Dino by readin' Nick Tosche's Dino-bio, "DINO: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dream.  And thanks ever so much to pallie Josh for even givin' a nice shout out to our humble little Dino-blog, ilovedinomartin. for doin' our part to promote his Dino-special.
I suspect there'll be more Dean Martin posts...